The Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral Continues  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

ScienceProgress has a look at the decline in the thickness of arctic sea ice - The Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral Continues.

In November, Rear Admiral David Titley, the Oceanographer of the Navy, testified that “the volume of ice as of last September has never been lower…in the last several thousand years." Titley, who is also the Director of Navy’s Task Force Climate Change, said he has told the Chief of Naval Operations that “we expect to see four weeks of basically ice free conditions in the mid to late 2030s."

Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School has “projected a (virtually) ice-free fall by 2016 (+/- 3 yrs)." Contrary to some reporting, that projection has been unchanged for years, though Maslowski is in the process of creating a more sophisticated model that he expects “will improve prediction of sea ice melt," as he explained to me recently.

Until then, we have some new observational data of Canadian sea ice thickness and this remarkable figure of sea ice volume since 1979 from Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice Blog, based on data from the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center …

Last month, Maslowski emailed me “the sea ice behaviour during the 2009-2011 does not provide arguments to change this projection based on volume trend." But he also noted, “There is some indication from the QuickScat data that 2nd and 3rd year ice has increased somewhat in the past couple of years which may imply not so linear decline of arctic ice volume." …

Whether the Arctic goes virtually ice-free by 2019 — or whether it takes another decade — the outcome is now all but inescapable. In September, National Snow and Ice Data Center’s director Mark Serreze said, “The volume of ice left in the Arctic likely reached the lowest ever level this month" and “I stand by my previous statements that the Arctic summer sea ice cover is in a death spiral. It’s not going to recover."

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